The protest, organized by the Rev. Gregory Livingston and political organizer Frank Coconate, attracted between 50 and 100 marchers.
Eight men, including the two organizers, and four women were arrested, given $120 citations for being a “pedestrian on a highway,” and released, State Police Major David Byrd told the Chicago Tribune.
The protesters planned to march down the Kennedy Expressway, affecting access to O’Hare International Airport. They were met on the westbound Cumberland Avenue on-ramp by more than 200 Illinois state troopers and several hundred Chicago Police, the Tribune reported.
The confrontation between police and protesters was peaceful, even though it ended with a dozen people in handcuffs. As the marchers approached the massed police officers, one officer said repeatedly through a bullhorn, “This is the Illinois State Police. It is against the law to be a pedestrian on the roadway.”
According to the tribune, Kennedy said, “We understand. No,” while the marchers chanted, “Ain’t nobody going to turn us around.”
“I never felt we had a conflict,” said Major David Byrd of the Illinois State Police told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We had a mutual understanding it was very respectful.”
First Deputy Superintendant Anthony Riccio of the Chicago Police Department, added “It was respectful on both sides. And professional on both sides.”
“It is important to stress that we are going to continue to protect the First Amendment right of those people who want to protest,” Riccio said. “But we have to balance that against the rights of those who want to get to the airport or who use the expressway to get down these streets.”
Lots of Death, Not Much Investment
The main motivation for the march was the ongoing violence which plagues Chicago.
Fox News reported that since Memorial Day, there had been 1,026 people in Chicago. Since May 26, 162 people have been murdered in the city.
“What we’re trying to do is end the tale of two cities in Chicago,” Livingston told the Sun-Times. “We think that so much of this violence is generated by Chicago’s legacy of segregation.”
— Morgan Greene (@MorGreene) September 3, 2018
Before the march, the Rev. Livingston said that disrupting business and travelers on a major holiday “will force them to pressure the mayor to listen to our demands.”
Considering that one of those demands was that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel resign, it seems unlikely that the march will have its hoped-for result.
The marchers also called for the resignation of Police Supt. Eddie Johnson., according to the Sun-Times.
The marchers were also calling for business investment in the South and West Sides “commensurate” with the dollars devoted to “planning, funding and partnerships downtown and on the North Side and “community-led re-negotiation” of a Fraternal Order of Police contract that, Livingston claimed, protects police officers.
“We want some real investment and some common sense solutions to this violence, because we believe we all are great, even if we don’t realize it yet,” Livingston said.
“We want justice for all people, not segregated lack of justice for one group, and justice for another group.”
— Audrina Bigos (@AudrinaBigos) July 7, 2018
Third Anti-Violence March
The Labor Day march was third—and the smallest—anti-violence march in the city of Chicago this summer.
A march on July 7 headed down northbound lanes of Interstate 94, known as the Dan Ryan Expressway, after a roughly hour-long standoff between police and the protesters, according to CBS News.
That march was led by Pfleger. After he negotiated access to the highway, Pfleger marched arm-in-arm with Chicago Police Superintendant Eddie Johnson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the head of the column.
CBS reported that there had been 252 homicides and 1,100 shootings in the first six months of 2018. Most of those crimes were concentrated in predominantly black, low-income neighborhoods.
Another March on Aug. 2, shut down part of Lakeshore Drive. About 150 people participated, shepherded by about 300 Chicago police officers, according to CBS.
Marchers in that protest said they wanted to make wealthier Chicago residents understand the severity of gun violence in Chicago’s poorer South and West sides.
That march was led by the Rev. Gregory Livingston, who told CBS, “I picked this date for a reason.”
“August 5 is the 52nd anniversary of Dr. King’s march through Marquette Park,” he said.
No one was arrested for blocking the roads at either of the first two demonstrations. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was rebuked by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in a social media exchange after the first march, the Tribune reported.